white water rafting
Destinations, News

Epic Whitewater Season Predicted for Colorado’s Arkansas River

Arkansas River Outfitters Association issue ways on staying safe whilst having fun during this whitewater season which is predicted to be epic.

Whitewater rafters, kayakers and other river adventure enthusiasts are set to enjoy one of the most epic seasons the Arkansas River has seen in over two decades. The water conditions will be created due to a large slowly melting snowpack causing a high river flow.

“We haven’t seen these kinds conditions since 1995 and the combination of slow melting and the huge mountain snowpack will make this season one rafters will tell stories about for years,” said Bob Hamel, executive director of AROA. “The river is a living, breathing, constantly changing resource and AROA members are continuously adjusting their offerings to ensure that guests of all ages and abilities have the best possible experience throughout the season.”

The Arkansas River is based in Central Colorado and said to be one of the world’s best sporting rivers.

The Arkansas River.
Photo by Catherine Eichel Photography.

Maximum thrill and safety tips have been issued by The Arkansas River Outfitters Association (AROA) to ensure everyone stays safe whilst enjoying the water. The state’s resource managers work closely with members of the AROA to find the most up to the minute information on safe areas and water flow.

“Even when we temporarily suspend rafting in some sections due to changing conditions, there are always other sections available for a wide array of rafting experiences,” said Bob. “That’s the beauty of a dynamic river like the Arkansas.”

Before rafting adventurers are advised to research the options available to find one that matches everyone’s capabilities. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife water advisory is updated daily, showing water levels with the information also being displayed on the AROA website, the guidelines should be checked before embarking on a trip.

Proper clothing should always be worn whilst on the river. Wet suits, splash jackets, rafting shoes and gloves that are comfortable are all recommended. Water, sun cream and medication such as epi-pens and asthma inhalers should also be carried.



Bob said rafters should be honest with themselves and others in the group when it comes to physical ability. He said: “There are inherent risks in all adventure sports whether it is rafting, skiing or hiking and participants should be honest with themselves and the outfitters they choose about their physical abilities and experience levels. AROA members are knowledgeable and experienced, they will recommend the trip that best suits your group.”

Taking the advice and guidance of an AROA member is also recommended, their knowledge and experience often goes-beyond licence requirements plus they follow a strict code of ethics. Any guides pre-river safety talk should be closely listened to and followed.

When on the river, a helmet and life jacket must always be worn with a guide’s instructions listened to seriously and followed quickly, especially if rafting through rapids or someone is in the water. A self-rescue option will be explained to rafters before going out on the river which should be adhered to if falling into the water, close communication will be given from the guide at this time.

arkansas river rafting
Rafters on the whitewater with AROA member.

Earlier this year, the AROA placed automated external defibrillators at key points along the river. The high-tech medical devices give visual and audio instructions to a user allowing them the chance to deliver an electric shock to someone in the event of a cardiac arrest. The shock can re-establish the rhythm of the heart, giving aid and potentially saving a life in the time it takes for professional medical help to arrive. 12 defibrillators have been placed along 100 miles of river, the locations of each were determined by those of other medical equipment such as spinal backboard stretchers across the Colorado Parks.

Brandon Slate, President of AROA said: “Nothing is without risk. AROA is constantly looking for ways to help make the river safer. We want to be prepared for any situation.

“This is a model program. We are the first to do it to this extent. There are buildings near rivers that have defibrillators inside, but none that are set up in wilderness areas like we’re doing that are specifically designated for boaters to use. Of course, we hope we never have to use the defibrillators, but having them there is important for overall river safety,” said Brandon.

“At AROA, we are proud to be a leader in promoting safety on the river and throughout the river communities. AROA’s overall efforts on safety issues make the Arkansas River a great place to take family and friends whitewater rafting.”

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